Six women of color leave Warren campaign in Nevada: report
Six women of color left Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) Nevada team after complaints of racial insensitivity within the campaign, Politico reported Thursday.
The departures have happened over the course of several months starting in November, according to the news outlet. Nevada is known for its large Latino population in contrast to other early primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire. The Nevada primary takes place February 22, a week before Super Tuesday on March 3.
The staffers who left the 70-person operation in the battleground state reportedly complained that they felt tokenized by the campaign because of their race. One staffer told Politico they felt like they were “there to literally bring color into the space, but not the knowledge and voice that comes with it.”
Much of the disputes came as staffers urged the campaign to produce more Spanish-language literature, hold events in Spanish and have more Spanish-speaking staffers join the campaign.
“During the time I was employed [in] Nevada for Warren, there was definitely something wrong with the culture,” Megan Lewis, a field organizer who joined the campaign in May and departed in December, told Politico. “I filed a complaint with HR, but the follow-up I received left me feeling as though I needed to make myself smaller or change who I was to fit into the office culture.”
The Warren campaign confirmed the departures to The Hill and does not dispute the allegations.
“We strive for an inclusive environment and work hard to learn and improve,” Warren campaign spokesperson Kristen Orthman said in a statement to The Hill. “We have an organization of more than a thousand people, and whenever we hear concerns, we take them seriously.
“It’s important that everyone who is part of our team has a voice and can be heard,” she continued. “That’s why we are proud that we have a unionized staff and clear processes for issues to be addressed.”
Last month the New York Times reported that Warren’s opponent, former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, also has had issues retaining people of color on his staff. Some staffers cited similar complaints, such as being asked to translate materials when they did not speak Spanish.
Warren has been endorsed by her former opponent, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, who has been floated as a potential running mate. He, as well as comedian Cristela Alonzo will serve as surrogates for her in a series of campaign events throughout Texas next week with an emphasis on courting the Latino vote in the Super Tuesday state.
On a Thursday night interview with MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Warren apologized for women’s negative experiences and didn’t contest the allegations.
“I believe these women without any equivocation and I apologize personally that they had a bad experience on the campaign I really work hard to try to build a campaign and a work environment where it’s … open and everyone is welcomed and celebrated and gets to bring their whole self to work every day,” she said. “But I’m also very aware that racism and oppression in this country have left a long legacy and it creates the kind of toxicity where … power structures people take advantage of other people, it’s something for which we have to be constantly vigilant and constantly determined to do better, I take responsibility for this and I’m working with my team to address these concerns.”